Friday, 23 October 2015

York's Cold War Bunker

Don't you just love it when your child's new obsession is something totally obscure - like the Cold War for instance? Yes this is an actual thing. I guess it sort of makes sense - for ages Son 1 has been preoccupied in a BIG way with WW2. It started when we went to Normandy a few years ago and has just gone on from there. He is absolutely fascinated with the details of the whole thing - the names of the landing beaches, the different fighter planes, the names of the tanks and various U Boats - I suspect he knows more about it than your average A Level History student! Anyhoo, now his interest has passed to the aftermath of the war - the Berlin Wall, communism and the Soviet Union. I guess it sort of makes sense - the only negative part to this is that is not a huge area of knowledge for me, and so it made sense to go somewhere that would enable him to find out more and have his questions answered! Therefore I jumped at the chance to go and visit York's Cold War Bunker which is looked after by English Heritage. A bit random but there you go!

Luckily it's not too far from our house, but when we get there I was surprised at it's location - it's sort of nestled in between some trendy flats just off a small high street outside of York. Random. We parked up and waited for our tour to begin at 1pm - you have to go on the tour at certain times (see bottom of the post) so make sure you look into that before you go. The other people on our tour seemed to mainly include students from York and other families. The students looked so pleased when they realised they were going to share their tour with small children. Not. The tour guide was a lovely guy - very friendly and knowledgeable. I explained that my son is a bit eccentric and into the details but he said it was fine and that's usually the case with quite a lot of the children who are interested in the bunker. The bunker itself is quite cramped and there is not room for a pushchair so we used a baby carrier. There are toilets but no cafe or anything like that although you can find places to eat on the high street. Going back to the tour guide - he was absolutely unflappable even when my younger son decided to spend quite a lot of time trying to velcro his coat to the tour guide's jumper. Thankfully after twenty or thirty attempts he succeeded - much to the relief of all.

Inside the control room!
I won't go into the contents of the tour as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who goes themselves, but suffice to say it was quite an eye opener as to how serious the threat of missiles during the Cold War actually was. The living conditions inside the bunker looked pretty horrendous - I honestly don't know how people could stand it. It was interesting seeing the locations on the map of all the bunkers across the UK - there are thousands of them all over the place. Who knew?

The only thing I would say is not recommended for children are parts of the video about the effects of nuclear weapons - some of it was very distressing especially as the aftermaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were shown, I covered my son's eyes but my older son got quite upset and left the room until it finished.

Some sort of army related jacket

Outside the bunker. Why wouldn't you take a baby in there?

It was a really interesting tour and something a bit different. I would really recommend it for anyone who has an interest in the post war era and who is keen to expand their knowledge of that area. It's also a part of our heritage so take advantage of it while you can!

Ticket prices are £17.60 for a family and remember you have to go at the following times - no need to book - Entrance by guided tour only, at the following times: 10:00, 11:15, 11:45, 13:00, 14:15, 15:30 and 17:00.

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